Collaboration: Bad Words and Strong Documents

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IOS Press
The use of communications technologies and artifacts in cooperative systems and the integration of cooperative systems in organization settings can be seen as a special case of the broader use of communications and artifacts in society. The broader system is of interest to those concerned with the documents and documentation. In this talk we will address two themes: 1. Language is cultural and evolves within communities of discourse. Every little community evolves its own dialect through metaphor and negotiation. Collaboration between individuals from different communities necessarily involves some dissonance, both in terms of what words mean (denote) and what they imply (connote) and, therefore, what words will be effective and socially acceptable. These issues extend broadly across the classification, categorization, and naming practices which form an important part of the infrastructure of collaborative activities. 2. Documents have enormous social power. My passport is more powerful than I am: It can cross frontiers without me, but I cannot cross frontiers without it. Analysis of the character and role of documents leads to an expansive functional definition of document which converges with the notion of artefact in the design of cooperative systems. These two related issues will be examined from the perspective of the study of documents and documentation.